Will Pummeling the Ma Administration Move Taiwan Forward?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 21, 2012
Summary: DPP legislators occupied the Legislative Yuan for five days, preventing the legislature from conducting its business. Opposition parties have no right to use violence to prevent the conduct of legislature business. They have no right to bring the ruling government to a standstill. If they force the government to spin its wheels, they will force the people as a whole to pay a heavy price.
Full Text below:
Ma Ying-jeou's second term has just begun. But he is already on the ground, having been beaten black and blue. The opposition DPP and TSU say no to every proposal the administration puts forth. They have sunk their teeth into the U.S. beef imports issue and refuse to let go. Nor is public opinion on Ma Ying-jeou's side. The Ma administration wants to debate the issues but lacks the energy. KMT legislators want to duke it out but lack the strength. Other economies are racing ahead. Taiwan continues to stand still. How is this good for the people?
DPP legislators occupied the Legislative Yuan for five days, preventing the legislature from conducting its business. The emergency session of the legislature meanwhile, has been postponed to mid-July due to typhoons. The Food Sanitation Management Act, the capital gains tax, NCC personnel appointments, and other bills have all been delayed. When can they be reviewed? No one knows. The last time DPP legislators occupied the legislature, they won. Naturally they want to consolidate their victory. President Ma has told KMT legislators that no matter how fearful they might be, they must act. Fortunately, the United Nations Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) meeting in early July will arrive at a decision regarding Ractopamine. Taiwan will then have a more objective basis for dealing with the issue. Currently there is no room for rational debate. Can chaos in the legislature be avoided? No one knows.
The Republic of China, obviously, is already a democracy. Our vote determines who will be president and which party will be in power. If candidates are willing to play, they must be willing to lose. If candidates participate in elections, they must be willing to accept the judgment of the voters. The most basic principle of democracy is that the minority must defer to the majority, the majority must respect the minority. The key to political representation is for voters to elect their representatives. The political parties will then determine whether a bill will pass by voting according to the number of seats they occupy in the legislature.
Voters elect the legislators. This determines which party will be the majority party in the Legislative Yuan and which party will be the minority party. When the ruling and opposition parties express their positions on an issue, the voters are expressing their positions. Why then, during the U.S. beef imports controversy did DPP legislators imagine they had a right to occupy the podium, seal off the hall, and ignore the voice of the people, as expressed in the number of ruling and opposition party seats in the legislature?
Votes taken by the so-called "ten thousand year parliament" lacked a public mandate. Physical conflict against the "old brigands" was to some degree understandable. But the Legislative Yuan today is popularly elected. Every legislator has a public mandate. None of them is special. None of them has the right to ignore democratic majority rule. If a political party is unable to win a vote in the legislature because it holds fewer seats, what right does it have to use brute force to prevent a vote? What right does it have to its violent behavior? Do the ballots voters cast mean nothing? Is the only thing that matters a political party's fists?
Currently the Ma administration is damned if it does, and damned if it doesn't. It has failed at communicating its decision-making. It has failed at explaining its policy implementation. It too needs self-examination. It cannot lay all the blame on a public backlash. Many Democratic Progressive Party officials think as long as they can bring Ma down, the DPP will benefit. In any event, they reason, it costs nothing to snipe at Ma. No matter what, they will come out ahead. As long as they can trip up Ma, that is a DPP victory. Seeing the Ma administration pummeled by the public is an opportunity too good to pass up. So why pass it up? This is why DPP legislators are taking such a tough stance. This is why they are unwilling to allow the KMT to take the next step.
But such strategies of confrontation are destructive. They are contrary to the principle of democratic elections. They are just plain irresponsible. Ractopamine has never been proven to harm human health. Hundreds of millions of people in the United States have ingested it for decades without incident. The DPP opposes Ractopamine to the bitter end. But why is it silent on the known harm from tobacco, alcohol, and betel nuts? The DPP frequently blasts the Ma administration for "leaning too far toward [Mainland] China." It claims that the Ma administration's record for signing free trade agreements (FTAs) is weak. It knows perfectly well that without U.S. beef imports the Taipei-Washington TIFA talks cannot resume. An FTA or TPP between Taipei and Washington is even more unthinkable. Yet it persists in standing in the way of U.S. beef imports. What kind of mentality is this?
In fact DPP legislators are not really standing in the way of U.S. beef imports. U.S. beef imports are merely a tool to mobilize fundamentalist supporters. The DPP's real goal is to stand in the way of Ma Ying-jeou, to bring his administration to a grinding halt. Even if it means sacrificing Taiwan's trade opportunities and economic future.
Is this a responsible attitude? Opposition parties have no ruling authority. But they have a responsibility to promote national prosperity. They may not gloat over developments that will harm the nation's future. They may not ignore Taiwan's survival merely to ensure their own political party's survival.
The people must learn to recognize responsible and irresponsible behavior. They must understand that political tactics must comport with the principles of democracy. Opposition parties have no right to use violence to prevent the conduct of legislature business. They have no right to bring the ruling government to a standstill. If they force the government to spin its wheels, they will force the people as a whole to pay a heavy price. Irresponsible words and deeds, by either the ruling or opposition parties, cannot be condoned.